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Stats SA data shows Employment is back to Pre-Covid levels

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Lerato Mbhiza

According to the results of StatsSA Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released by Statistics SA, employment in South Africa increased by 399 000 jobs in the third quarter of 2023 – meaning 16,7 million people were employed in the quarter compared to 16,3 million in the previous three months.

The number of employed people is the highest since before the 2020 to 2022 Covid-19 Pandemic period.

In addition, the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 160 000 to 13,1 million, while discouraged work-seekers decreased by 26 000 compared to the second quarter, resulting in a net decrease of 186 000.

Statistician-General, Risenga Maluleke said the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 160,000 to 13,1 million.

“The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition, decreased by 0,9 of a percentage point to 41,2% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to quarter two of 2023,” said Maluleke.

Maluleke also added that formal sector employment increased by 287,000 in the third quarter.

“The following industries, finance (up by 237 000), community and social services (up by 119 000) and agriculture (up by 61 000) recorded the largest employment gains.

“Employment losses were recorded in manufacturing (down by 50 000), mining (down by 35 000), transport (down by 20 000) and utilities (down by 16 000).”

Although youth employment increased slightly by 1.9 percentage points, the unemployment percentage for people between the ages of 15 and 34 is still very high at 43.4% after reaching 45.3% in the second quarter.

Maluleke said while the youth remain vulnerable in the labour market, the third quarter of 2023 results show that the total number of unemployed youths decreased by 174,000 to 4,6 million, while there was an increase of 237,000 in the number of employed youth to six million.

“This resulted in a decrease in the youth unemployment rate by 1,9 percentage points from 45,3% in Q2:2023 to 43,4% in Q3:2023.

The unemployment rate decreased in seven provinces from the second to the third quarter. KwaZulu-Natal added the most jobs of all the provinces with 152 000, followed by Limpopo with 70 000, North-West with 61 000 and Mpumalanga with 44 000. Only the Free State recorded job losses with 3 000 jobs lost.

Northwest at 51,2% recorded the highest expanded unemployment rate, followed by Mpumalanga at 46,7%, while the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal recorded more than a 15 percentage points difference between expanded and official unemployment rates.

While the unemployment rates in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have consistently been below the official unemployment rate for the past ten years, the unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape continuously exceeded it.


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